I blow off the schooling show championships, and my “homework” for Faeryn

I had qualified and signed Faeryn up to compete in the Houston Dressage Society schooling show championshps which were Sunday. Of course life has been c-r-a-zy lately  – like Christmas was not enough — I have new tenants moving into my pink farm house (www.alvinhouse.com) and have to get that ready. And then, new tenant offered to remodel the bathroom for an incredibly good price. He does super work – I have seen examples, and it really did need it, with a tired old ugly fiberglass tub/surround and beat up vanity – all dating from before I bought the house in 1995. The only catch is, he had to do it before they moved in next weekend, since there’s only one bathtub/shower in the house, and he had other jobs lined up this week. Which meant that I had to drop everything and shop for and choose tub/surround tile/floor tile/new vanity/faucets in about 48 hours. Which I did. 

So when my alarm went off Sunday a.m. at 5:15, I had a fairly long debate with myself. I finally decided there was a lot I could do in those 6 hours it would take me to  haul her there, unload, show and come home that would, in the long run, make my life more sane than just competing in a schooling show championship. I had a pang of regret later that morning when ‘my’ ride time rolled around – but only momentarily. I have bigger fish to fry at the moment, I think.

Debbie actually got on and rode Faeryn during our session Saturday. She is only the second person besides me to ride her and Faeryn was not always a happy camper about it. In fact, I think it’s the only time I’ve ever seen Faeryn with her ears pinned under saddle. Debbie thought she was lazy, but I know that is not the case. I think it was a combination of being confused by a different (and better!) rider, and also it was unseasonably warm and she was sweating pretty good almost from the get-go.

Debbie’s diagnosis, as I mentioned earlier is that I am ‘pumping’ at the canter with her, too, although it does not seem as obvious to me as with Fling. Also, she is not wanting to use her right hind, which is a problem for Fling too, and all stems from me sitting more left and collapsing my left hip. The ‘cure’ is to ride with a whip and lightly tap, tap, tap to activate the hind leg, do more ‘strengthing’ exercises for the right hind, and to sit more on my right seatbone. ALSO, Debbie said I have to be willing to let her make a mistake. As in, when I am cantering and ask for her to collect – I need to quit ‘helping’ her so much and driving her – if she breaks when I ask her to collect – just bring her immediately back to canter to show she’s made a mistake. If I keep driving her forward to keep her from breaking, she will never learn to collect because I am driving her too much, and she will never develop self-carriage.

I was too busy to ride her Monday, plus I wanted to ride Fling. But I was anxious to ‘try out’ this new homework on Faeryn since I did not get to ride her long after Debbie was done on Sat. . I was really not convinced I WAS ‘pumping’ at the canter. But, when I rode her, I realized I was, but not nearly as much as with Fling. I have to REALLY concentrate to NOT pump at the canter, it’s become such a habit. I almost have to get in a ‘zen’ state, so to speak and concentrate on just SITTING and really FEELING the horse moving underneath me. I have found that if I cannot feel the horse moving underneath me – independently of me – I am moving too much.

I almost immediately understood what Debbie was saying. I sat and did nothing – and waited until Faeryn was about to break – and then did a minor correction. A few times when I asked her to collect a bit more, she did break, but instead of coming to walk or just trotting on like I usually would do  – I put her right back into canter. Only by letting her make mistakes can I teach her what she is supposed to do.

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